Authorities in Thailand have refused to release elephant tusks needed for the trial of a man, his two sons and two other suspects in Mombasa charged with trafficking ivory. Last Month, Kenyan officials went to try and secure the 511 raw elephant tusks worth Sh576 million but returned empty-handed after running into various legal hurdles in Thailand, throwing the trial set to resume on May 23 into limbo.

The Government said it had not given up and is still negotiating with Bangkok to return the consignment in fulfilment of a Mombasa court order last year.

Abdurahman Mohamed Sheikh alias Said Juma and his two sons; Sheikh Abdurahman Mohamed Sheikh and Sheikh Abdurahman, are charged with trafficking the ivory disguised as tea through Kilindini Harbour. Other suspects are Lucy Muthoni Kahoto, Musa Jacob Lithale, Samuel Mbote Mundia, Salim Mohamed Juma, Abbas Issa Rashid and Kenneth Mwangi Njuguna.

International arrest warrants have been issued against Nicholas Waweru Jefwa and Ismael Bakari, who have not been arrested and are on trial in absentia. Export Company Potential Quality Supplies has also been charged. FACED HURDLES The trial has faced many hurdles due to the non-availability of the exhibit and last year, Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Simon Rotich ordered the Director of Public Prosecution to ensure the tusks are brought to court as fast as possible to enable the trial to start.

Principal Prosecutor Alexander Jamii confirmed that the Kenyan officials are still negotiating with the Thailand officials over how the exhibit in the trial of the suspects was very crucial.

"The State is still negotiating with Thailand over how the cargo can be trans-shipped back to Kenya from that country," said Mr Jamii yesterday.

But an official, who asked not be named, said negotiations have so far not yielded positive results for the Kenyans. The suspects have denied that between March 15 and 26 April 2015 in Mombasa, they dealt with 511 wildlife trophies of endangered animal species weighing 3,123kgs without a licence from KWS. They have also denied that on the same date, they exported the ivory to Thailand in container number FCU5235796 valued at Sh576 million without a permit from KWS.

The suit is coming up before Justice Mathew Emukule on May 23 for the inter-parties hearing of an application in which Abdurahman, his two sons and others are seeking orders to exchange Sh50 million, which was frozen by the Government with current movable assets equivalent to the amount. The accused have sued the Asset Recovery Agency, Attorney General and DPP, pleading to be allowed to exchange immovable property with current movable property, which was seized. Abdurahman says he has house in Majengo that he can exchange for the money in various bank accounts, which have been frozen.

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